Offering help to families can feel difficult, and schools and nurseries often have to consider how this can be done in a way that works for the families living in their community.
Head Teacher at Beith Primary, Fiona Dunlop, says:
“Because obviously it’s about dignity as well, and respect. During the pandemic lockdowns the staff went out into the community to deliver food and devices that children needed for home learning. So they made a lot of connections with the local community and the families at that point that we are trying to build on now."
We’re using that information and that trust to be able to continue to support them in a way that’s not embarrassing for them. We use that knowledge to inform. So things like this year we have set up a uniform shop at Beith. We got grants from Tesco and various other places. We’ve applied for any funding we can get. We call that a swap shop but it doesn’t have to be.”
The school makes sure that parents can access this resource in a confidential and non-stigmatising way. Parents can let the school know what they might need on a confidential form which the school sends out a link to and is also easily accessible on their website. The school then parcels up whatever is needed and sends it home with the child. When thinking about how to offer help, Fiona feels it’s worth remembering that no two families are the same.
“People need different things at different times, and I think that was really important that you’re aware of that. It’s really about intelligence and attitude I think, you’ve got to have that, you have to work hard to build trust. People are proud and we try to do it in a way that keeps allows people to save face if you like, so they don’t feel as if they’re being identified in the wrong way.”